|Getting from Google to your Hotel Direct.|
By Erik Munoz
Saturday, 3rd May 2014
Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal reported that Google have added more arsenal to their Hotel-Price Ads (HPA) platform via a licensing agreement with Room 77 and acquiring their engineering talent.
So what does this mean for hoteliers, digital agencies or booking technology providers? We asked our London-based long-time friend, Erik Munoz (pictured below right) for his insights and advice…
As a hotel tech geek, I'm fascinated by any innovation in the hotel booking landscape that helps hotels operate more profitably, or simplifies the booking supply chain and fuels more online business for hotels. From a hotel digital marketing perspective, Google first evolved their search platform back in 2011 to offer more "digital real estate" for hotel prices within Google Search results and later within Google Maps.
With mobile already a key strategic platform in the travel industry, Google and Room 77 offer the potential to move consumers from Search-to-Book on mobile devices with less friction than a pop-up website or landing page.
In Google's words, "HPA is a feature that assists users who are researching travel by surfacing hotel rates and availability across Google properties."
Clearly, the opportunity for the hotel marketing team is to drive Google traffic to your hotel website. But at what cost?
The challenge is to manage your HPA ad spend for the greatest return on investment (ROI). But there are several elements involved in the potential ROI, which involve revenue management, technology and marketing influences. Revenue Managers, is your pricing aligned with market demand and your hotel value perception?
IT folks, if your pricing is correct, how efficiently and at what rate can your website and booking engine convert "clicks to bookings"? Marketers, if your pricing, digital platform and booking engine are optimised for maximum returns, how aggressive can you be with your bids to ensure you have enough traffic to convert to a direct booking, at a lower overall cost than alternate online booking channels?
Welcome to the era where hotel revenue management and digital marketing teams must work together, to align their strategies for maximum revenues at the lowest cost of customer acquisition. But don't be daunted by this "forced marriage" of revenue management and marketing, it's a huge opportunity, so let's work through this step-by-step.
Free stuff: Take a look at page one of Google after you search for your favourite hotel destination and you might have noticed a digitally delightful strip of hotel photos at the very top of Google search results? That's called Google Carousel and is available for free, so make sure your static hotel content (name, address, location and stunning images) are optimised for this precious digital real estate, including your hotel profile on Google+ Local. Your hotel profile on Carousel is free, so make sure your digital images show your hotel in the very best way. Analytics have shown that better quality images lead to more engagement and more bookings.